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The Bike Week Constitution Ban

by Sam Levin

-----Original Message-----
From: Sam Levin 
Sent: Sunday, May 19, 2002 3:02 PM
To: Laconia, NH Police Chief William D. Baker
Subject: Bike Week gun ban

Before you pass me off as some "gun nut redneck," I believe it would do a good service to introduce myself.

My name is Sam Levin. I am a 21 year old College student from Hudson, NH.

Here is why I believe the handgun ban at Bike Week is a bad idea.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." - Second Amendment to the US constitution.

I certainly hope that you got the last part of that sentence Mr. Baker. It means ANY infringement, including a ban at a public event. 

"I think the council by and large will support it (the gun-free zone)," said [Laconia Mayor Mark] Fraser. "They want to do whatever they can do to prevent something from occurring - and as long it is believed to be constitutional, I believe they will support it."

These words refer to your proposal, Mr. Baker. But I can't help wonder exactly how you would go about "prevent[ing] something from occurring." Can you think of a single shooting or gun-related violent incident that happened at Laconia Bike Week? I have searched exhaustively for a record of such an incident but have found nothing. But then, we need to "prevent something from occurring," don't we? Here's my idea:

Let's ban motorcycles at bike week. In fact, let's ban Bike Week all together...far more people are injured by motorcycles in the State of NH than by firearms. Motorcycle injuries cost hospitals a great deal more of resources than firearm-related violence. You want to prevent "something from occurring," correct? Why stop there?

I hope you can see how ridiculous this idea is. Both implications are not mutually exclusive. Both the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions strictly prohibit such infringements of basic rights. There are a grand total of zero legitimate reasons for a gun ban at Laconia Bike Week any more than there is a need for a ban on motorcycles.

-Sam Levin 

-----Original Message-----
From: Chief William D. Baker
Sent: Wednesday, May 22, 2002 2:45 PM
To: Sam Levin
Subject: Re: Bike Week gun ban

Hi Sam - thanks for your email - and since I can see you are a staunch supporter of constitutional rights - such as free speech - I am sure you will respect my right to tell you that I think you are a sarcastic bastard! That fact aside I am always glad to hear opposing points of view.

In fact gun incidents do occur annually, but like most people if they don't happen under your nose or appear in the weekly police log you don't know and don't care about them - that doesn't change the fact that the brave young men and women of law enforcement put their butts on the line on a daily basis for people just like you.

Secondly I would draw your attention to the case of State v. Smith 132 N.H. 756 (1990) a New Hampshire Supreme Court case in which the courts says "the State Constitutional right to bear arms is not absolute and may be subject to restriction and regulation" and further that such a restriction "may be sustained if it narrowly serves a significant governmental interest" It
goes on to say that "the governmental interest served . . . protection of human life and property, is patently significant".

Thirdly I find it interesting that you are prepared to criticize an idea that has not yet been explained and detailed.

Finally I am a republican, anti gun control, long time advocate of gun rights and citizen rights and have narrowly crafted a temporary restriction which if complied with by law abiding citizens for eight days in one small part of the city will leave only criminals exposed to arrest and prosecution.

In any event my job of protecting human life and property is as the Supreme Court says "patently significant" and I will continue to do it honestly, fairly, creatively and the best way I know how.

Thanks for your feed back.

-----Original Message-----
From: Sam Levin 
Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 7:41 PM
To: Chief William D. Baker
Subject: Re: Bike Week gun ban

I will be honest with you Mr. Baker. I didn't expect a response from you, but thought if I did receive a response, it would contain name calling and resentment on your part. My anticipation was correct.

I am fully aware that gun incidents occur. However, I am still unaware of violent gun-related confrontations at Laconia Bike Week. If I am mistaken then I apologize. However, your assertion that a criminal who would use a firearm to commit a violent crime would obey an edict by a police chief declaring they are forbidden to carry firearms at Bike Week is, on its face, absurd.

Mr. Baker, I am fully aware of the "reasonable restrictions" put upon constitutional rights as no right is absolute. For instance, a reasonable restriction to free speech is not being permitted to yell "fire" in a crowded theater if there is no fire present. However, they don't sew one's mouth shut as a prerequisite to entering a movie theater simply because they fear that person will do so--just like you can't shoot people indiscriminately or use guns in a way that is otherwise irresponsible and deadly. These restrictions are reasonable enough. There are already prior restraints on firearms. They have been there long before "sarcastic bastards" like me were ever even thought of. See the difference? 

You hope that I am ready to criticize a plan that I have not heard in full detail?

The article titled in the Citizen Online (, is "NO GUNS FOR BIKE WEEK."

A statement regarding your plan from Mayor Mark Frasier goes as follows, "Under the proposal, an area along Lakeside Avenue and on Route 3 would be posted as 'no guns allowed,' even if the gun owner had a valid a license to carry a concealed weapon."

While I am not a scholar of the English language, I do believe the statement to imply that firearms will be banned at Bike Week. That is the grievance I am addressing. Feel better now?

You say "[T]hat doesn't change the fact that the brave young men and women of law enforcement put their butts on the line on a daily basis for people just like you."

I do fully appreciate and respect our men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line on a daily basis, but that has little to do with a self proclaimed "gun rights and citizen rights advocate" putting a "temporary restriction" on a basic human right. Most true gun rights advocates know that there is nothing more permanent than a temporary restriction. Why should it stop at guns? Let's put a temporary ban on the right of assembly during Bike Week so as to prevent biker gang fights. It's just a small area, and it's only for eight days, right?

To say that you're an advocate for these rights while proposing a "temporary restriction" on them is pure cognitive dissonance. You can't say you are an advocate of something and then propose exactly the opposite. The place, time, and duration are completely irrelevant. 

You say that you "have narrowly crafted a temporary restriction which if complied with by law abiding citizens for eight days in one small part of the city will leave only criminals exposed to arrest and prosecution."

So you plan to make criminals out of and prosecute citizens who would ordinarily be law abiding, but wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights at a place and time that you don't like. You have made your plan perfectly loud and clear Mr. Baker. No need for further clarification.

-Sam Levin

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Proposed gun ban of some concern:

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